By Andrea Shalal
WASHINGTON The International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and Morocco on Monday announced the annual meetings of the two global institutions would proceed in October in Marrakech, despite a recent nearby earthquake that killed more than 2,900 people.
The meeting will take place from Oct. 9-15 in Marrakech, just 45 miles (72 km) from the site of the 6.8-magnitude earthquake on Sept. 8, with some changes to adapt content "to the circumstances," World Bank President Ajay Banga, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and Morocco's Economy Minister Nadia Fettah Alaoui said in a joint statement.
Senior IMF and World Bank officials made the decision, first reported by Reuters, at the direct request of the Moroccan authorities who had pressed the global institutions to proceed with the gathering which is expected to bring some 10,000-15,000 to the Moroccan tourist hub.
"As we look ahead to the meetings, it is of utmost importance that we conduct them in a way that does not hamper the relief efforts under way and that is respectful to the victims and the Moroccan people," the three officials said.
"At this very difficult time, we believe that the Annual Meetings also provide an opportunity for the international community to stand by Morocco and its people, who have once again shown resilience in the face of tragedy. We also remain committed to ensuring the safety of all participants.”
Georgieva told Reuters on Friday that Morocco's prime minister told her it would be "quite devastating" for Morocco's hospitality sector if the meetings were moved to a different location.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Chris Reese)